The rise and fall and rise of Adam Scott

By Rex HoggardApril 7, 2014, 3:00 pm

KOORALBYN, Australia – Off a winding country road deep within the Queensland hinterlands is the Kooralbyn International School, a weathered and slightly dated sports specific institution with a sneaky good resume.

This isn’t where Adam Scott learned to play golf. Nor did he dig his competitive fire or resolve from the dusty hillside. But Kooralbyn was where the Australian first put to paper the loftiest of expectations that would take nearly two decades to reach.

Scrawled in black and white in his no nonsense singular simplicity is everything one needs to know about Scott – “I would like to be a world-class player,” Scott wrote in December 1996.

Coming from your normal, off-the-shelf 16-year-old, such a boastful benchmark could be dismissed as youthful indifference or perhaps false bravado, but from the moment Phil Scott, Adam’s father, put a club in his son’s hands there was never a question of talent.

“Every kid says I want to be the world’s No. 1 or I want to win a major, so you take it with a grain of salt. You would have never imagined it would get to where it is now,” said Peter Claughton, the head golf coach at Kooralbyn when Scott attended the remote school.

Leave it to Scott to take the long view, even as a teenager.

For the Record: Phil Scott - Adam's Masters win (click for more clips)

The dashing champion who became the first Australian to slip his arms into the Masters’ green jacket last spring hasn’t changed much in his years since he attended Kooralbyn, soft-spoken, insightful and honest with clarity of thought that still transcends his years.

In broad terms, “a world-class player” went well beyond winning major championships – although bringing the coveted green jacket home certainly leaves little room for debate – or being ranked No. 1 in the world, a goal that is now mathematically within his grasp with Tiger Woods on the extended DL. No, for Scott achieving “world-class” status required the delicate convergence of his prodigious talent with a healthy dose of mental toughness.

The latter would take years to hone and would test every ounce of his resolve, while the former came as naturally as a 300-yard drive.

When Phil Scott, a club professional who tried his hand as a touring professional in his early years, moved the family from Adelaide in South Australia to Queensland the moment dovetailed with his son’s growing interest in the game.

Phil Scott had been hired to be the general manager at Twin Waters Golf Club just north of Brisbane and young Adam’s passion and play blossomed with the relocation.

Even at such an early age, Scott had few peers recalled John Jennings, a member at Twin Waters who vividly remembered his first encounter with the skinny kid with the sonic swing.

“I turned up at the tee at the appointed time which was noon and there were two elderly ladies, probably in their early 60s, and a little boy and it was his 12th birthday. That little boy was Adam Scott,” said Jennings, who remembered Scott shooting 84 (12 over) and dropping his handicap to 12 that day.

For Scott, however, high noon still loomed well down the road.

Scott’s time at Kooralbyn – where years later Jason Day would also hone his world-class game – was short, but from an early age there were whispers. Scott, along with fellow phenom Aaron Baddeley, were the proverbial pointy end of the spear in Australia’s golf awakening and inevitably the conversation would always turn to Augusta National, the site of so much collective angst.

For a proud sporting nation, Augusta National was cursed grounds and Greg Norman, a three-time bridesmaid at the Masters, was their hero whose heart had been broken and the pain shared by an entire country.

“I’m working with Aaron and know how good of shape he was in, and he and Adam are at a junior event and Aaron calls and says, ‘I won my age division but finished second overall,’” said Dale Lynch, the golf coach at the Victorian Institute of Sport at the time. “Aaron shot 6 under so I ask what (Scott) shot and he said 16 under. My first introduction to Adam was this kid shooting these scores and beating a kid I’m working with that was really good. It was scary.”

Before Scott could end Australia’s long Masters winter, however, he would have to endure his share of heartbreak.

There was a brief stop at UNLV before turning pro in 2000 and enjoying almost immediate success, with victories on the European Tour (2001) and PGA Tour (2003) in his rookie year on both circuits.

Scott would add five more Tour titles before his 30th birthday but something was missing. Prior to 2011, he had just four top-10 finishes in 39 major starts, and only one (a tie for ninth at the 2002 Masters) where it most mattered.

“There wasn’t a lot of great experience there for me. There was a lot of average golf and when you’re playing average in a major they really show you how average you’re playing,” Scott said. “There were a couple of really bad scores and some embarrassing moments.”

Adam Scott

But if greatness is born from adversity then Scott entered the final leg of his climb to world-class status in 2009, when he posted just a single finish inside the top 10 and concluded the season outside the top 100 in Tour earnings for the first time in his career.

Two summers later, on a warm and sunny English afternoon, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place for the would-be major champion as putt after putt refused to drop. Four strokes clear with four holes to play at the 2012 Open Championship, Scott limped home with four closing bogeys and lost by a stroke.

Most athletes struggle to pinpoint the instance when the winning epiphany arrives, but for Scott it was the precise moment when Ernie Els hoisted the claret jug over his head on Royal Lytham’s 18th green.

“We’ll all be able to look back and think that (the 2012 Open) made him,” Phil Scott said. “It made him realize that he woke up the next morning and there was still oxygen and he still saw the ceiling and you might as well get on with it.”

Less than a year later Scott would play his last six holes at Augusta National in 3 under to tie Angel Cabrera and clinch his slice of Australian history with a 12-footer for birdie at the second extra hole.

At the time, the normally subdued Scott allowed himself a rare moment of retrospection.

“It’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Aussie to win, just incredible,” he smiled.

Of course it would be Adam Scott, their Scotty, to end the Aussie duck, a cricket analogy that summed up 79 years of frustration at Augusta National. Born from wild expectations, forged through adversity and delivered at the perfect moment to end one of sports’ most confounding droughts.

“I don’t think it’ll get any better than that moment,” said Phil Scott, who was waiting for his son behind the 10th green following the playoff on that gloomy Masters Sunday. “He could win 10 green jackets and whatever championships, to me that will always be the moment.”

It was the moment Scott finally lived up to the potential of being the world-class player the 16-year-old envisioned nearly two decades ago at Kooralbyn.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."